Snow in October

Wikipedia map

I recently traveled to the Pyrénées-Orientales departmentof France, which is the most southeast department in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, bordering Spain.

The weather was nice and sunny, but cool in the evenings.  One morning, I was surprised to suddenly see snow on the Pyrénées – what mesmerizing beauty!

A Royal Commute, “Sire” – “Your Majesty”

I am so excited, on cloud nine, over the moon, etc.   I absolutely love anything to do with Versailles, and actually, am traveling there soon.  The RER-C commuter trains, running from Paris to Versailles, are being re-decorated inside to ‘match’ the interior of some areas in the Chateau de Versailles (link in English).  How totally cool is this!

All aboard — Especially me!

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Photos Credit: and

Resort/Restaurant/Hotel in La Gaude


I recently spent a “get out of town city” day at the Sunset Hotel and Resort, a four-star establishment in La Gaude, a town situated between the mountains and the sea – about 10 km (6 miles) from Nice. This historial town is a hiker’s paradise and was home to Marcel Pagnol, the French writer famous for the novels, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, later made into films.

The resort has several tennis and squash courts, a large outdoor pool, charming terraces, a bar area & restaurant, a playground and a rabbit pen to amuse children. It was a nice sunny day, as I enjoyed playing a little tennis and dining al fresco with a view overlooking the pool. A Nice quiet day outside of NICE!

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Local Fashion Show: “Journée de la Mode”

To celebrate the season changing from summer to winter, a local town held a fashion show to promote its local businesses. Not exactly haute couture, but entertaining and charming, in presenting fashion and beauty to consumers, to brighten an otherwise gray and overcast, rainy day (videos below). Not to mention that one of the male models certainly brightened my day!

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Another Scam Alert

Recently, a friend of mine was eating lunch, with a group of about 25 others, at a restaurant in Nimes in the Langedoc-Roussillon region of France. A young man asked one of the ladies if she had dropped something and pointed to the floor, and when everyone bent over to look at what he was talking about, he stole her purse, that had been hanging on her chair, and ran away. (Yes, her passport and credit cards were in it!). Of course, these type of scams happen in Nice, but can happen anywhere.

It’s easy to think that everyone is trying to be helpful in cases like the above, and it’s sad that we have to mistrust everyone nowadays.  Here’s a link that may be helpful, but here’s hoping that you never need this info.

Be alert, be aware, be travel smart!

Art Exhibit at the Port in Nice

The “vernissage” for charity, featuring paintings done by a friend, was well attended.  The works of art merged powerful women’s faces, provoking images of an interesting ménage à deux.  Everyone mingled, nibbled, and enjoyed the artful ambiance. Can you guess who the featured/paired women are? What two powerful women would you add to this collection?


“What’s up, Doc?” – Les Carottes

Carrots make me think of the American cartoon, “Bugs Bunny,” and I don’t really think of eating them other than, maybe, sliced in a salad or added to a pot roast.

I recently stayed with French friends, where one evening, the entrée/appetizer was Carottes Râpées.  I was surprised at how tasty grated carrots can be, not to mention visually appealing.  So, here’ s my friend’s recipe, which I am adding to my petit French cooking repertoire:

Carottes Râpées

Peel carrots and grate the carrots (using a food processor makes this easier; result as in the photo), then stir in lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley.  Arrange in the center of a plate.  Add slices of tomatoes (sprinkled with parsley or pepper) for contrasting color and flavor, as well as for added decoration around the carrots. Quick to make, simply delicious, and healthy!

Vocabulary:  a food grater = une râpe (pronounced like wrap)

Voila! Bon Appetit!

Wine Robotics X 2

#1 A new robot (known as Wall-Ye) has been designed specifically to help winemakers with its ability to prune vines — in fact, its creators say that it can prune up to 600 each day. And for vineyards, the machine has more to offer than just manual labor, as Wall-Ye also has the added ability to record data on plants and soil using six built-in cameras. It also includes a GPS and gyroscope that serve as a security feature, so that the robot knows when it’s not where it should be. “If that happens, the hard-drive self-destructs and the robot sends a message to the winegrower: ‘Help!'” says creator Christophe Millot. Wall-Ye will soon perform sales demonstrations for a number of vintners in the country, though those who want the robotic helper will need to spend around $32,000 for its services.



Some hypermarchés (see list below) have installed a robot-like wine sommelier (wine waiter) to help consumers with which wines to select: just type in a food selection and Max makes a few wine recomendations. You help narrow the search by selecting a region, price range, and type of wine, as shown in the below video.

The list of  Carrefours with “Max le Sommelier”:

Aix en Provence, Athis, Barentin, Claye-Souilly, Collegien, Dijon Toison Or, Ecully, Flins sur Seine, Givors, Ivry sur Seine, Labege, Lattes, La Ville du Bois, Les Ulis, Lormont, Merignac, Mondeville, Montesson, Nice, Ormesson, Pontault-Combault, Purpan, Rambouillet, Saint Andre les Vergers, Saint Brice sous Forêt, Saint Pierre des Corps, Tourville, Venette, Venissieux, Villabe, Vitrolles, Wasquehal.


McDonalds is “McDo” in French

According to a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, 14,000 McDonalds in the U.S. will begin posting calorie counts on their menu boards. Surprisingly, the highest calorie item is not a “Big Mac,” but is the “Big Breakfast.” Beware though: the healthy sounding mango pineapple smoothie (32 oz.) is equal to the grilled chicken sandwich in calories (350).

Although many chains already post calorie content, McDonalds is heading off a federal labeling requirement, where restaurants with 20 or more outlets will be required to post calories on menus. McDonalds also wants to portray their menu as not only containing junk food, with apples having been added to the kids’ meals. Americans now consume about 1/3 of their calories from restaurants and spend about 1/2 of their food budgets at restaurants.

Studies show that when calorie content is publicized, consumers generally decrease their intake, while other studies show no correlation.###

What do you think – do you pay attention to posted calorie content when ordering at a restaurant?

There are 15 McDonald’s in and around Nice, and although I haven’t been in one, when I pass the ones on the Promenade des Anglais and on Ave. Jean-Medicin, there always seems to be a lot of customers. I frequently see advertisements on the television for McDonalds too, so they are imbedded into the French landscape now, and whether this is positive or negative, seems to be a part of current French culture.

I happened to notice a automated ordering station in a nearby McDonalds as I was walking by (no calories posted) – I’m not sure these are to be found everywhere – has anyone used one (see video)?